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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Top digital tools that can help you start a charity

This news post is almost 7 years old

There are lots of ways that technology can help those setting up a charity, but opting for which software to go for to help the running of your organisation can be daunting. Sally Dyson, head of digital participation at the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, looks at the digital tools which are a must for those setting up in the third sector.

Deciding what you need to help you set up and run a charity or any small organisation should really be part and parcel of working out what you want to do and how you want to go about achieving it.

When setting up a new organisation there’s an amazing opportunity to build the use of digital into your charity from the beginning.

Meeting your basic needs

We all need to write documents, use a spreadsheet and prepare presentations – especially in the early days when you’re planning, pitching and writing funding applications. There are two obvious options for this: Microsoft and G-Suite. Both offer similar tools and functionality, and it really comes down to personal preference.

Internal communications

Now your team might be small to start with, but you might be spread out across Scotland. Whatever situation you find yourself in, good internal communications are key. Email is the default communication channel. But think about more modern technologies too. You could use Slack, Yammer or Whatsapp groups to keep everyone up to date with your organisation’s work.

And when you need a friendly face or voice to speak to, get in contact with your team by using a free online video tool like, Skype, Google Hangouts, Facetime or Zoom.

Hello world

It’s not just your internal team that need to know what you’re up to, think of the outside world.

Not everything needs to be digital. Leaflets and posters in your local community, listings in local magazines or at other community centres are good. However, alongside that, your web presence is something to give careful consideration to.

A website is the obvious place to start, Wordpress and Squarespace offer free, easily updatable website building. However a website isn’t always necessarily the right answer. It might be that social media is enough of a presence to get the ball rolling.

Getting social

You don’t need to be on every platform to be noticed – plus you probably don’t have the time. Whether you choose Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat or anything else - develop a tone of voice. People want to get to know who is behind the charity – no one likes a robot!

If you do decide to have a presence across several platforms take a look at free management tools like Buffer, Smarterqueue and Hootsuite.

Plan, Plan, Plan

In the early stages of setting up a charity there’s lots of planning to be done. There’s nothing wrong with a Gaant chart but there are lots of great, free tools out there that can help you plan and allocate tasks. Take a look at Asana, Basecamp, Trello and Workflowy to get you started.

Tools like Mentimeter, SurveyMonkey and Google Sheets can help you collect valuable feedback from supporters and service users. Don’t forget about Google and social media analytics too.

To keep up to date with all things digital in the Scottish third sector sign up to SCVO’s digital e:bulletin at



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